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Sometimes building materials and products are specified by an owner, but become unavailable for reasons such as strikes, shipping delays, high demand etc. This presents the owner and the builder with a dilemma which must be worked through carefully.

If these circumstances arise most building contracts provide that the builder must notify the client and request that substitute materials be selected within a specific time period. Usually alternative close substitute products are available to use. For example the owner can select another line of bricks should the specified brick be unavailable. Any extra costs are usually at the client’s expense.

If you insist on the original materials and are happy to wait until they become available, the builder is entitled to an extension of the time for completion of the home, or the works could even be suspended. If the works are suspended you can be liable for any additional costs that may result.

Generally speaking, material shortages or their unavailability will not allow you to terminate a building contract, but will cause a delay in construction.

Before signing a building contract, discuss with your builder whether there are any delays or bottlenecks likely to occur in acquiring the materials that you specify. Make sure that you allow sufficient time in your rental lease or other living arrangements and budget for unanticipated time overruns or additional costs and variations that may occur during construction.

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